It’s one of the world’s most widely-spoken languages, but it’s still considered mysterious by many for its right-to-left script and unique looking characters. Discovering Arabic and developing an understanding in it can be as rewarding as it is intimidating, and there are many ways to go about it.
We’ve already compiled a list of the best online courses for learning Arabic as well as a list of the best podcasts for studying the language. This time, we’ll take a look at the best apps to help you with your language learning journey.
As this list only includes resources that are available as apps, it leaves out some quality options that simply lack mobile capability.
It’s also worth noting that this list doesn’t cover every app trying to teach the language. Instead, we’ve pulled from the great many we’ve tested ourselves, plus some that are commonly recommended, and grouped them into categories based on what they do best. Hopefully, it will help narrow the field a bit and point you in the right direction.
Best for Developing Communication Skills: Pimsleur
Best Free Way to Get Started: Madinah Arabic
Best Free Gamified Course: Duolingo
Most Fun Way to Learn Vocabulary: Memrise
Most Customizable Way to Practice Vocabulary: Anki
Best Way to Learn Vocabulary From Context: Clozemaster
Best Dictionary App: Hans Wehr
Best Podcast-Style Lessons: ArabicPod101
Best Reading Content: LingQ
Best for Reading Alongside Your Native Language: Beelinguapp
Best Radio App: Radio Arabic
Best for Learning the Arabic Alphabet: Arabic Alphabet
Best for Feedback on Writing: italki
Best for Online Tutors: italki
Best for Help with Random Questions: HiNative
The apps in this category are those that take the most comprehensive approaches in teaching Arabic. Instead of focusing on one or two skills, they generally offer a broader education. They can make especially useful options for the beginner Arabic learner, providing a well-structured introduction to the foundations of the language.
Pimsleur has been producing language learning courses for over 50 years — they must be doing something right. Now available as an app for Android or iOS, Pimsleur offers an Arabic course that will get you speaking and listening to Arabic quicker than almost any other resource. The course gets users to speak almost immediately through participatory audio lessons, helping to build confidence and an ear for pronunciation right away.
The approach is especially good for those that are aural learners or are most interested in practicing the language as it is spoken. The tradeoff is that it isn’t a good option for anyone interested in developing their reading and writing skills or grammar explanations. Don’t let the brand’s age fool you, the app is refreshingly attractive and easy to use. Review.
This app is especially exciting for all of the free content it offers. There are currently two Madinah Arabic courses: Arabic Reading and Arabic Language. The Arabic Reading course is, of course, designed to get you reading in Arabic. It starts with the basics, teaching the names and pronunciation of each letter in Arabic. It might not be the most engaging way to learn to read, but it’s thorough and free.
The Arabic Language course is made up of over 100 lessons and includes audio clips, short videos, and review quizzes. The lessons build on each other logically, making it easy to find material for your level.
Madinah Arabic also provides optional access to Arabic tutors, but they are more expensive than on resources like italki. This app is currently only available in the Apple App Store.
It’s highly gamified, easy to use, totally free… There’s a lot to love about Duolingo, as long as you’re aware that it won’t bring you near advanced fluency on its own. While the exercises are engaging and varied enough to keep practice interesting and effective, you won’t get very good instruction on the Arabic alphabet. Duolingo also only teaches MSA Arabic — you’ll have to look elsewhere for specific dialects.
For a fun, free way to practice basic skills, Duolingo is great. Just don’t expect it to take you super far on its own. Review.
Just about any search for a language learning app is going to bring up Mondly, but its prevalence isn’t an indication of quality. It isn’t clear what type of Arabic the app teaches, there are no in-depth grammar explanations, and no cultural information — you’re better off somewhere else. Review.
This one’s got some engaging content and is easy to use, but it’s really only an introduction to the language. It’s a viable option for absolute beginners looking to get acquainted with Arabic. Review.
Udemy is an online marketplace for a wide variety of online courses, including some for students of Arabic. The courses are frequently offered at massive discounts, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for sales.
While some stand by its unique immersive approach, we don’t think the painfully repetitive lessons and lack of explanations are worth the relatively high price tag. Review.
The upside to the Michel Thomas Arabic course is that it isn’t actually taught by Michel Thomas. Instead, you’ll get to hear a native Arabic speaker through mostly audio lessons. It doesn’t include material for the advanced learner. Review.
Rocket Arabic is a bit expensive for what it offers — audio lessons are uninspiring, and it’s really only viable for absolute beginners. Review.
The format of the lessons on Busuu is really nice and makes for a good user experience, but the Arabic course lacks depth. If you’re going to pay, there are better options for your money. The social feature is especially nifty and free to use. Review.
It’s possible to study multiple dialects of Arabic with this app, but you’ll only get practice memorizing set phrases. There isn’t much possibility to build fluency here. Review.
Memrise can be a great way to build your Arabic vocabulary. There’s a ton of content that’s available on the platform for free, and the user-created materials cover just about anything you could want to study. While you’ll be able to choose between several different dialects, it’s important to realize that the quality will vary from deck to deck.
All Memrise decks utilize spaced repetition for efficient practice, and many include images and audio.
The official Memrise Arabic course is especially engaging because it uses native speaker audio and teaches basic grammar concepts. You can sample a fair amount of this material for free as well, but full access requires a paid subscription. Review.
This flashcard app is as customizable as it is powerful. Its stripped-down style won’t win any fashion awards, but it makes up for it in usefulness. Its potential for customization makes it popular among not just language learners but learners of really anything.
If you have any interest in designing your own SRS study materials for Arabic, Anki will help you do just that. You can make standard flashcards, cloze deletion cards, add images and audio, and use tags. If you don’t want to spend time creating your own deck, check out the pre-made Arabic options. The Anki app is free to use on Android, $25 in the Apple App Store.
There are three main draws for Clozemaster — it’s fun, it’s mostly free, and it teaches new words within context.
There’s nothing professional-feeling about this resource. It’s designed like an 80s arcade game and uses points and levels to keep it from ever feeling like a stale classroom activity. As fun as it may be, it also has its limits. Rather than an app to teach you to speak Arabic fluently, it’ll do a better job of helping you build your vocabulary.
The fact that it presents new words in the context of a sentence should give you a more complete understanding of the word as it’s actually used. Overall, this app offers some good practice for free, especially if you like the aesthetic. Review.
This is the mobile version of the legendary Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary, widely considered to be the best of its kind. A quality dictionary resource is indispensable, and this is one you can trust.
While the dictionary is of top quality, it does require a basic understanding of Arabic to use. You can search for a word by entering the root of the word using an Arabic keyboard (installed separately) or by searching the romanized equivalent.
uTalk is very easy to use and a convenient way to get some extra Arabic practice in. It won’t be of much use to the serious learner, though, as it’s only focused on teaching set phrases. Review.
Drops is a particularly user-friendly and visually engaging app. It teaches vocabulary through short, engaging activities but lacks explanations and uses some images that are hard to tell apart. Review.
This learning site offers study materials in a variety of subjects, some of it free. Study Arabic with flashcards and multiple-choice quizzes, but don’t expect anything comprehensive.
This app offers very basic practice of vocabulary and set phrases with spaced repetition. It’s designed for travelers instead of serious language learners and doesn’t specify what dialect it teaches. 300 words and phrases are available for free, more material requires payment.
This app is fairly popular and mostly free, but it doesn’t offer a whole lot. Expect lists of categorized vocabulary words and very basic practice exercises.
The fact that the lessons are presented as a podcast lands this resource in the best apps for reading and listening category, but it actually provides quality practice in a variety of skills. The ArabicPod101 course manages to be entertaining while delivering valuable grammar, vocabulary, and cultural information via audio lessons.
The app covers a range of levels, from beginner to advanced, but really shines at the intermediate level. There’s a fair amount of English at the beginner level, but it’s replaced by more Arabic as you progress and the material becomes more challenging. There are also videos to keep things engaging and transcripts to maximize the learning potential. Review.
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LingQ makes it easier for learners to practice their reading and listening skills in Arabic. It’s easy to look up words you don’t understand as you read, and LingQ keeps track of what you need to lookup. It uses this information to visually represent the parts of the text you aren’t familiar with and to save words for later review.
Much of the content on LingQ is from other sources, and you can upload your own content to practice with. This is one way to make sure that your study materials are something you’re interested in.
The only downsides to this resource are that its extra features are overpriced and that the review function doesn’t work as well as it could. A similar option is Readlang, a browser extension that does many of the same things as LingQ and is available for free, although the Arabic version is still in beta. LingQ Review.
This is another solid option for anyone interested in getting some Arabic reading practice. It’s unique to other apps in that it displays a translation of the text you’re reading in your native language side-by-side with the Arabic version as you read. Easy access to a full translation of the text you’re reading can be much more helpful than single-word translations. It’s also easy enough to hide the translation and only use it when necessary to be sure you don’t rely on it too heavily.
Beelinguapp also has a “karaoke” function, where the text is highlighted as it’s read aloud, providing reading and listening practice at the same time.
This is an app that the advanced learner may find particularly helpful. It’s a collection of over 500 radio stations from 20 different countries. You’ll be able to listen to Arabic music, listen to sportscasts in Arabic, the news, and plenty more. It’s not an app specifically built for language learners, but it’s a great way to increase your exposure to the language in a way that interests you.
Before you’re able to read in Arabic, you’ll need to learn the script. It’s one of the more intimidating writing systems out there for anyone used to the Latin alphabet. Reading and writing happen from the right side of the page to the left, something only happens regularly in 12 modern languages.
Reading and writing instructions in the app come in the form of character stroke animations, flashcards, quizzes, charts, and audio recordings of Syrian and Iraqi speakers. You won’t get an advanced education here, but it’s a good place to start.
Similar to pronunciation, writing is a skill in which computers just aren’t that good at providing quality feedback. They can do things like check grammar and spelling, but they aren’t nearly as good as humans when it comes to understanding tone and context.
One great way to get free feedback on your writing from other humans is through italki’s Notebooks feature. It allows users to post pieces of writing on any subject that interests them with the goal of getting feedback from another user that’s proficient in the language. A good option for anyone looking for some Arabic-speaking penpals. Review.
Even with the incredible range of apps of all different teaching styles, it’s still hard to beat one-on-one instruction from a human teacher. One of the best places to find an Arabic tutor online is with italki. In addition to its language exchange feature, it functions as a massive online directory of language tutors.
There are currently close to 200 Arabic language tutors teaching six different dialects. This many tutors means finding one that fits your budget and schedule should be fairly painless. The majority of tutors for Arabic charge less than $15/hour, some as low as 4$/hour. Search filters make it easy to find what you’re looking for, and each tutor has a recorded intro video you can watch to get a feel for their personality and teaching style. Review.
Both of these apps work really well for finding language partners, and they both offer a lot for free. The idea behind them is that you’ll find someone to teach you their language in exchange for teaching them yours. This happens through text or voice conversations where you’ll have the opportunity to offer corrections for each other. Both apps also include a built-in translation tool to make it easier to communicate, but you’ll have to pay for unlimited translations.
Tandem and HelloTalk both have active communities of language learners and function largely as social apps for chatting. HelloTalk has a style that’s a little more lighthearted and Tandem feels a bit sleeker. They each also offer additional language instruction for a subscription, but we think their real value comes from their language exchange potential. Tandem Review. HelloTalk Review.
Learning a new language involves an endless stream of questions. Many of them you can answer with a dictionary, language book, or internet search, but there are some that are best answered by a native speaker.
HiNative is a Q&A app that connects language learners with questions and native speakers with answers. It’s very easy to use — posting a question on the site makes it public for anyone proficient in Arabic to answer. The community is large, so you should receive an answer quickly.
The basic functions of the app are free, but you can pay for the ability to record yourself speaking and listen to the audio of others. You won’t learn the entire language on HiNative, but it’s a great tool for the odd question. Review.
Another online tutor directory, Verbling has stricter requirements for its teachers, which means slightly higher prices and less variety, but it’s definitely still a viable option. Review.
This online directory has a huge number of tutors, more than twice the number available for Arabic on italki. The platform doesn’t pay its teachers very well, though, and not at all for trial lessons. Review.
This tutor platform has put a lot into their marketing campaign, but the product falls short of its promises. There are very few tutors, and the subscription model doesn’t offer good value. Review.
This is another social language exchange app that functions very similarly to Tandem and Hellotalk but has fewer features and a less dedicated community. Review.
Whatever your level in the language and whichever dialect you’re interested in learning, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding some good apps to help you with Arabic.
A lot of these apps are quality resources and can seriously aid your progress, but note that an app alone isn’t enough to reach fluency in a language. That said, they can make stellar supplements to your study plan and are definitely worth looking at.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know!